Cooperatove Conservation Project

Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative

Landowners and Hunters Restoring Forest Health

Location: Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic Region: Pennsylvania

Project Summary: Public and private forest managers, with the conservation group Sand County Foundation, created the voluntary Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative to restore a healthy forest ecosystem.
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Collaborative management of white-tailed deer is at the heart of the Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative.
Resource Challenge
The hardwood forests of the Allegheny plateau are among the most productive and diverse forests in the Eastern US.  For decades, forests in the Atlantic, Eastern, and Lake States have suffered severe natural regeneration failures and significant watershed and habitat impacts associated with browsing by white-tailed deer.  Starting in 2001, public and private forest managers on 75,000 acres in McKean County, PA, together with the private conservation group Sand County Foundation, created the voluntary Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative (KQDC) which is working with sportsmen, landowners, and area businesses to restore a healthy forest ecosystem while creating high quality deer hunting and exciting wildlife recreational opportunities. 
Examples of Key Partners
Collins Pine Company (Kane Hardwood), Commonwealth Forestry, Forest Investment Associates, Bradford Water Authority, Allegheny National Forest, RAM Forest Products, Sand County Foundation, USDA NE Forest Science Lab (Warren), Pennsylvania State Cooperative Extension (McKean County), Allegheny National Forest Vacation Bureau, Keith Horn Inc., Pennsylvania Game Commission, Wild Turkey Federation, National Rifle Association Foundation, Heinz Endowments, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Bradley Fund for the Environment.
Results and Accomplishments
This model of cooperative conservation, linking landowners and sportsmen for habitat improvement, has created a deer management plan based on extensive data regarding forest health, deer herd condition, hunter behavior, and community development objectives.  Working with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the KQDC has created a model of responsible, locally-led wildlife management that has reduced over-winter deer densities by 30%, improved the quality of bucks, and is leading to improved regeneration of valuable timber species as well as rare forest plants.  This public-private partnership seeks to:
  • save the local forest products economy
  • maintain forest stewardship certification
  • protect large, mostly undeveloped, blocks of forest land
  • expand tourism and recreational appeal of McKean County
  • highlight hunting as an essential forest restoration tool

Public-private partnership to restore 75,000 acres of forestland through voluntary deer hunting program.

Project Contact
Kevin McAleese
Program Director
Sand County Foundation
P.O. Box 3186
Madison, WI 53704
Brad Nelson
Wildlife Biologist - Allegheny National Forest

222 Liberty Street
Warren, PA 16365
(814) 723-5150

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